Friday, October 17, 2008

Photographic Memory

I have this uncanny ability to recall entire conversations of no consequence, sometimes conversations in which I wasn't even involved. With a decent trigger/queue/catalyst/impetus I can recall the situation/context/person/place/thing surrounding it. I have a nearly 100% recollection ability. For some reason this doesn't work with many of my childhood memories. When my brother talks about things we did, I usually only remember bits and pieces of the event. But if it is something that I did on my own, I can remember everything down to what I was thinking before/as/after the thing happened. I would go so far as to say I have a videographic memory.

Once (while I was working in Alaska) my roommate asked me "who do we know who has a mole on his face?" after two minutes of filing through my mental snapshots of everyone in the "mutual friends" folder for me and my roommate I returned with the answer. I knew not only who it was, but which side of the face and exact location of the mole.

that surprised even me. I don't think I have an exceptional memory-- no wait-- I do. I don't think it is so much that my memory is great, so much as that I have learned exactly how it works and use that to my advantage.

But, the other day I realized that I was using my memory to my detriment.

I never realized how often I think of things in the abstract. I was doing homework and I recalled having written something down that related to the problem at hand, I spent 2 minutes recalling what it was I had written down and then realized later that I had the exact copy of my notes not 5 feet away from where I was studying. If I had used my memory to find the note itself, I would have saved myself a lot of effort by simply reaching over and grabbing the original note, instead of "replaying" the videographic memory of writing it down.

This happens a lot. I will be remembering something or thinking of something only to realize that I am in fact in possession of that item. Sometimes a shot in the dark seems more efficient than recollection. Since I rely so much on my memory, I sometimes slow myself down. If someone asks what I did with their pen I cue up the memory of having the pen, and fast-forward through my entire reaction with the pen and watch where I put the pen when I was done with it. sometimes this is great, because I put the pen in my jacket which is now in my backpack in my locker... somewhere I would have spent a lot of time to look for. other times I realize that it is in my pocket. Most people will automatically sift through their pockets for lost items like keys and pens... for me, that is the last place I check, and I'm a lot slower at those sort of answers than most people.

Sometimes I will be helping someone look for something and I will say "Ah! there it is!" to which my fellow lookers will reply "where?" as they watch me leave the room/building and come back with the item in my possession. "it was in the car/upstairs/entry...".

I think the fact that my head operates in this way is part of the reason I love film. It is counter intuitive to the way my memory/mind works. but it is for this reason that I find myself willing to suspend my disbelief. There are issues with improbabilities, or other fact-based reasons I will not allow a movie or show to do certain things... like tell me that the only way to kill a certain demon (sure, there's a demon I'm fine with the fact that there is a demon...) is with "a blade made of pure brass..." (WTF? "pure" brass? Brass is an alloy, imbecile) simply because it explains away something, or allows for the story to move forward(like in Supernatural, where the brothers kill a demon clown with a pipe from the organ in a circus fun house. How convenient that you had some "pure brass" handy...).

I am willing to let someone else recount the particulars of the story and tell it to me. I am fully willing to overlook the setup, and in the end I can appreciate the payoff. Even if there were clues all along. I fall for it a LOT, especially for being someone who knows how movies set things up, where and when it is most often done, and the ways that most plots play out. this ranges from thriller whodunits to romantic comedies, and everything in between.

I think, that since my mind opperates like a movie (linear documentation of events or linear playback recollection of events, even when experienced out of order (like Memento, or Lord of the Rings or Who is Cletus Tout?) I have a mind that works well on the MAKING of movies. as well as WATCHING movies. I can do both effectively. Guessing the end of a movie? not exactly my forte, I don't even think to consider it. writing a story and keeping track of when to tell what part? I can do that.


whirlygirl said...

sounds like the beginnings of an interesting essay for an application to film school. :) I pretty much don't remember anything from my teenage years, whether interacting with you guys or not...which is pretty strange.

whirlygirl said...

Oh! and on a totally unrelated note, guess whose wedding announcement I saw in the LCNT when I was at dad's house last weekend? Tiffany Flener's.